Evangelicals are gushing over Sarah Palin because she's one of their own--her voting record and credentials align perfectly with the conservative Christian platform...but do I spy an 800 pound gorilla in the room? How can it be that a woman, a wife, and a mother is actually being praised for stepping into the highest eschelon of leadership, and working outside the home instead of being a full-time mother to her children, including a baby who has Down's Syndrome?
I have two problems with Palin as VP. One is my personal view and the other is the hypocrisy of her being supported by evangelicals. The two are interconnected, so let's start with the second.
As a whole, evangelicals have not looked favorably upon women in leadership (over men) or mothers of young children working outside the home. And yet, along comes Sarah, seeking to be tall but in no way plain, and suddenly it's not only okay for her to go against what has been touted (and beaten over women's heads) as Biblical values, but it's actually praised! What's up with the double standard? Is there some exception clause I'm not aware of that says women can be exempted from their "biblical" roles if they can achieve a position of political power that enables them to legislate "biblical" values?
The quotes I put around "biblical" beg the question of whether I think they're biblical or not. So glad you asked. Yes and no. And this brings us to my personal problem with Palin as VP. I believe women can and should be in leadership both in the church and outside it. I believe they can teach men, but I'm not convinced they can shepherd them--then again, in countries like China, women pastors are the norm, so the jury is still out. My understanding of the Bible (and the women in the Bible) is what leads me this position. But there is a catch.
I do not believe that women with young children should pursue full-time careers outside the home for any other reason than financial necessity. A woman with children that has a husband who can provide for their family has been given a gift. That gift is called motherhood and it's a full-time job, especially when the children are young. The more children she has, the more responsibilities there are in her job. So what is a Christian woman with five kids, one of whom is about to have a baby in her teenagerhood, and another of whom is an infant with special needs, choosing to run a state, let alone vying for the leadership of an entire country?
My view is that a woman with such ambitions has two choices. Either not having kids or not pursuing her career goals until after she's raised her children (or at least seen them through their childhood). Having her cake (to the tune of 5 kids!) and eating it too (to the tune of being vice president of a nation) is not a healthy option. I speak from experience as a well-educated, former professional (student) turned stay-at-home mome of three.
Sarah Palin seems like a gifted and loving woman, but she has made a tragic mistake that will have repercussions on her family. Is it not possible that her daughter's choice to be sexually active was a result of a mother who wasn't there for her the way she needed? After all, we're talking about a Christian family who obviously raised their kids in church and taught them Biblical values, so why the departure from what she knew was right? Yes, teenagers can be rebellious and this has happened to daughters of stay-at-home moms also. But in this case, it didn't. It happened to a woman who chose to lead other people instead of her family. Or do you think it's possible to do both? Could she actually be a Super Mom?
Another thing that irks me. I read somewhere that she doesn't believe in birth control. Well, I don't believe in using the pill (because of its abortifacient properties and the health dangers of artificial hormones) but I believe in an omnipotent God that is sovereign and whose will cannot be blocked by contraception or even vasectomies. There's nothing wrong with family planning as long as one does it with the realization that God could override it.
But if someone--Sarah Palin, in this case--believes that it's wrong for her to do anything to prevent future pregnancies, then it is completely irresponsible of her to pursue two of the biggest jobs anyone could ever hold--mother of a large family and leader of a large nation (or even state or city). Pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, breastfeeding, early childhood development...that's a 12 (or more) hour a day job that all women struggle through without doing anything else! If you're planning to make your life an endless cycle of all the above, when can you find time for another 12 (or more) hour a day job? You can't.
Nor do I feel comfortable with the idea of the potential President of the United States getting pregnant with a 6th child while caring for five others, including one with special needs...not to mention her relationship with her husband, which as all mothers know, needs extra nurturing when children come into the picture.
The Palin Paradox truly boggles the mind and wrenches the heart.
UPDATE: The New York Times ran this story tonight which addresses a lot of what I was talking about, albeit from their liberal slant, but it's a pretty balanced piece. It also reminded me that I would say this same stuff if it were Palin's husband (or a husband/dad with young kids) running for high office, though as a mother, I feel more passionately about her role.